How To Find Clients


Show Notes

How do you find clients as a solopreneur running a virtual service business like coaching or tax prep?

Tyler and Steve describe many of the things they've tried, as well as which ones actually worked.

  • 00:00 Harrison Ford's job before Star Wars
  • 04:14 Social media marketing
  • 10:26 Paid ads
  • 15:43 SEO and chatGPT
  • 19:54 Networking IRL
  • 23:03 Being a jack-of-all-trades as a solopreneur
  • 25:09 Benefits of having a local network
  • 28:44 Referrals
  • 31:34 Where did Steve's actual clients come from?
  • 34:16 Where did Tyler's actual clients come from?
  • 36:05 Pre-qualifying clients before they even talk to you
  • 43:31 Supply and demand in qualifying leads


[00:00:00] Steve: Tyler, do you know what Harrison Ford's job was before he made it big in Star Wars?

[00:00:09] Tyler: I saw an article about that this week, and it's something like Carpenter. Is that right?

[00:00:13] Steve: yeah, that's right. He was uh, so he had had some acting jobs beforehand, like doing serial television, maybe and a few movies here and there including American Graffiti and. His impression of a lot of folks in Hollywood was that they were trying too hard, like their timeline was too short and they were trying too hard to land the gigs and he wanted to extend his, his timeline of being able to be successful, so he had more time to practice his craft and take the good jobs and be able to say no, I guess.

So anyway, he picked up carpentry and I guess he's really good at it. But the, the cool thing about it for him was that that was what paid the bills for a while. He had that source of income that he could rely on, and he was able to take more time with the acting stuff.

[00:01:07] Tyler: So he moved to Hollywood, started auditioning, but in the meantime, he was building things out of wood.

[00:01:13] Steve: Yeah.

[00:01:14] Tyler: So the cool thing about this story to me is it sounds a lot like what. We are trying to do, well, we're starting businesses. While we have a full-time job, we have full-time jobs. That's our main gig. That's what pays the bills, that's our profession. But we're also starting these businesses in order to increase our income and experience Otherwise.

[00:01:38] Steve: I agree that's, it's kind of a superpower to be able to have a W2 job while you're building something else cuz it gives you a lot of flexibility and safety net underneath you. Yeah. So that may resonate with a lot of listeners. Here who are also doing similar things.

[00:01:56] Tyler: Yeah, I've talked to a lot of friends who've said they wanna start a business but they're, and I'm not saying I'm good at this, but they're, you know, they've said things like, I just, I don't know how to start it while I have a full-time job. And I'm like, well, You use the income from your full-time job to fund your side business, that's your capital, right?

Until you have enough income coming in there to, for it to fund itself, that's something that I'm doing. Sounds like you're doing the same thing. And I think it's for relatable to a lot of people in our situation.

[00:02:24] Steve: Indeed,

[00:02:25] Tyler: So thanks Harrison Ford for the good example of how to do something like this, having a full-time job while you're pursuing your dreams.

[00:02:39] Steve: Hey there, I'm Steve.

[00:02:41] Tyler: And I'm Tyler, and welcome to, it's Not about the money where we discuss a wide range of topics related to creating and running small businesses.

[00:02:49] Steve: The two of us are small business owners just trying to make sense of the world, one podcast at a time, and we're glad you're along for the ride.

[00:02:57] Tyler: That's right. And today we're gonna talk about one of the most difficult parts of starting a business, which is how to find clients. And we're gonna talk about a few methods that exist for marketing and advertising and finding clients. In general and share some of our experiences with those, and then we're gonna break down our own clientele and where we are actually finding those clients in real life for our businesses.

[00:03:23] Steve: This will be fun. I know it sounds like from our conversations that you have tried a lot more of these things that we're gonna talk about than I have, so I'm really interested to ask you questions and hear what it's been like.

[00:03:37] Tyler: Well, I'm glad to have suffered so that you don't have to in some cases.

[00:03:41] Steve: There we go. Yeah. But this will be fun to talk about, like all the things we tried and then see where did the clients actually come from,

[00:03:47] Tyler: Right, right. And our,

[00:03:48] Steve: you know, is gonna be different for everybody, but. I'll give you a sense of maybe some things that are, if you haven't considered them yet, maybe some things that are worth trying for your business.

Or maybe you'll be like, well, my business is similar enough. Clients are similar enough to what they're talking about that I won't even bother going down that route. Thank you, Tyler, for uh, it showing the way, showing the way not

[00:04:12] Tyler: off. Yeah, yeah.

[00:04:14] Steve: So we'll see. Uh, Where do you wanna start? How about

[00:04:17] Tyler: let's start actually with like, let's just go chronologically with the things that I tried,

[00:04:21] Steve: Okay.

[00:04:22] Tyler: And the first channel of client acquisition, if you wanna call it that, that I tried was social media marketing.

[00:04:30] Steve: Okay.

[00:04:30] Tyler: Which is a form of content marketing. Specifically I was on Twitter. I don't know, this was kind of an accident. I, I'm not, I've never been a huge Twitter user, but I was on there enough to be influenced by the uh, uh, the. money crowd on there. You know, there's different parts of Twitter depending on what you're interested in, and you kind of get sucked into a vortex echo chamber, if you will.

And so I was in the part, the personal finance part where everybody's investing in real estate, doing affiliate sales and building massive audiences so they can sell their, their digital products. And so I started pretty intensely marketing. Myself on Twitter as a budget coach before I even had a business or any clients, or was even sure what I was doing, but I was kind of working on the building an audience part initially.

[00:05:20] Steve: Okay. Was this before or after the YNAB certification that you got?

[00:05:26] Tyler: I think it started before. Yeah, so this was just an interest that I had before I was certified. And like we've talked about on previous episodes, I've kind of had the itch to be doing a, a small business on the side for a long time. And I've dabbled in a lot of things and I think I started on Twitter even before I knew what I was, you know, I didn't have a clear direction or really an idea of what I wanted to achieve.

I just thought, oh, this is something that is possible. Build an audience and then with an audience comes the ability to sell whatever it is that that, that you may be offering.

[00:05:59] Steve: Mm-hmm. Okay. I have not done any social media any, well, no, that's not true. I've done a little bit on LinkedIn, like maybe three times in the last six months I've posted something related to taxes. Maybe, maybe a little more than that. Although with the previous endeavor, I was writing a, a blog called the Introverted Manager, and I had a Twitter account for that, but it was mostly like, it would only post when I had a new article coming out

[00:06:26] Tyler: Mm-hmm.

[00:06:28] Steve: or something, so that, that wasn't very aggressive and nothing ever came of that project.

It was a fun little project but didn't gain an audience from that.

[00:06:36] Tyler: If the gurus are to be believed, you have to feed the algorithm. When it comes to social media, you, it's kind of like this constant game, whether it's Instagram or Twitter, Facebook, or some other platform. You kind of have to know or, or discern, you know, what, what is performing well in terms of what type of content you're posting and how you're interacting with the platform to get yourself boosted in, in front of more people to get followers.

And because even if, if you get a ton of followers, only a percentage of those followers will see any given thing that you tweet. Right? So, so basically just, I'll, let me explain what this looked like for me on a daily basis uh, following like the best practices of people who were doing this successfully.

It was tweeting something like at least five times a day, which is a lot, and then at least once a week. You were supposed to publish a Twitter thread, which is like Twitter's version of longer form content, right? Where you just reply to yourself several times and it becomes like a little miniature essay.

And then on top of that, you were supposed to reply to other influential tweeters. That's not that, I don't think that's a word, but, you know, reply to, tweets that were doing well, like something like 20 to 30 times a day, right. Just to get exposure. It's, it was an, it was a total numbers game.

It was a total grind just to get exposed, you know, starting from zero followers, right? Um, And that.

[00:08:01] Steve: hours of work every week.

[00:08:03] Tyler: It could be, yes. I actually leveraged a tool to automate a lot of it so that you could spend roughly an hour. I mean, it, you could spend as long as you want, but you could spend a lot of time and queue everything up.

It had some artificial intelligence features built in, so you could basically like. Search for tweets that we're already doing. Well rewrite them in your own words with chatGPT, basically, and just like crank it out, right? Just crank it out. Five tweets a day. At least all these replies it was, but yeah, so it was a grind.

Thank goodness for automation. You can automate a lot of that, or, or if not, automate, at least consolidate batch things together so it's not dominating your life. But psychologically it kind of is dominating your life, I found always kind of thinking about it. Right. So, and uh, it's interesting because if you do that, like, and in my experience, it, it, it kind of works.

Like I was building a following. It didn't get huge or anything before I decided to give up. Way to go Tyler, way to stick with it. But, but interestingly enough, I actually got my first client through this channel. It was someone on Twitter who I had been aware of in the product. productivity space that I just was, you know, kind of a longtime fan of, and they saw that I was doing this, they were a fan of YNAB, which is what I was coaching, what I, what I do coach on and they're like, oh, hey, yeah, I love that.

You know, I'd love to, to work with you and get my setup optimized. So that was

[00:09:28] Steve: well that's cool. But in the end, the grind was not worth the results.

[00:09:35] Tyler: It's hard to know if I stuck with it long enough to answer that definitively, but, but yeah, it got old fast. I mean, it, it's definitely a game, right? And if you're into the game, like a lot of people are, it can be a lot of fun. It can be kind of addicting. It's like there's always, you're always looking for more, right?

More retweets, more impressions, more followers, more replies, all this stuff. So, and I guess the reason I stopped doing it is because I felt like I was spending more time on growing an audience than I was on doing what I wanted to be doing, which in my case was coaching people.

[00:10:09] Steve: Mm-hmm.

[00:10:10] Tyler: Or I was spending more time developing the skills of social media, which is totally a thing. Skills and experience of being good at, you know, at social media. But I wanted to be developing the skills related to coaching, like I said, and kind of just putting my time there. So that's one thing I tried.

[00:10:26] Steve: Okay. Social media marketing, what came next?

[00:10:33] Tyler: After that I decided to try paid ads. Uh, It's interesting. I have a really good friend of mine. We've been friends since high school who has run a paid ads agency for many years, very successfully. He actually sold it recently and. I don't, I don't think he actually retired cause he just likes working.

But, but he probably could based on that experience. So I was able to interview him and kind of find out like what, what is the best way to do paid ads specifically on Google and on Facebook. Cuz it's interesting, you know, Google's business model is basically, Ads, right? And so they're in, they're incentivized to get you to run a lot of ads and have a lot of people click on those ads, kind of regardless of how they convert for you or perform, because the more people click on 'em, the more money they get.

So Google has options for setting up ad campaigns that are basically like totally automated. So it'll generate a ton of ads and let you, it'll iterate on those ads and kind of see which ones perform better. And then start displaying those ones more often, right? Cause they're performing better. But remember to Google performance is clicks, which is also money for them and from you.

And so one of the things my friend said is, absolutely do not do that. Like definitely build your campaign manually and focus on very specific keywords that you've researched very carefully because you wanna spend as little money as possible to get the traffic to your site. So that was a really interesting exercise and uh, I mean, obviously it works because if you pay Google, people will click on your ads and and, and go to your website, right? But it can be quite expensive.

[00:12:08] Steve: That is interesting. I did not know that about Google Ads.

[00:12:12] Tyler: Yeah, I mean, I am not an expert. I am just kind of parroting to you what I learned from an expert. But yeah, that's a lot of fun. I think what's intoxicating about that is that it, like I said, it works like you pay money, people come to your website, but it's really hard to get qualified traffic or people that will actually take some kind of action because they got to your website. And that's the game, right? Is how can I craft an ad that only attracts the kind of person that will do what I want them to do when they get to my website, otherwise it's wasted money, right?

[00:12:44] Steve: Oh yeah.

[00:12:45] Tyler: And so in my case, my goal was to try to get their email address in exchange for a lead magnet, a little course, a mini course that I created about how to budget.

So the idea was they click on an ad, they come to a landing page like, Hey, do you want this free course? About how to get your finances in order, exchange for your email address, and I got a few, but it was way too expensive for my budget at the time. I only spent $150 total on this, but the ads were not running for very long and it's impressive how quickly uh, it adds up.

[00:13:17] Steve: Yeah. Okay. I, now that we're talking about this, I have actually toyed with the idea of doing something sort of similar. On..., There's a platform called Thumbtack that is for finding service provider. I think it's primarily, Like construction, interior design, like those kinds of services.

[00:13:40] Tyler: Odd jobs. Handy, handy work, that kind of stuff.

[00:13:43] Steve: those kind of things.

But there, there's also a lot of tax professionals on there, so I thought maybe I should try this. And they have a thing where you pay for qualified leads. Basically,

[00:13:56] Tyler: Mm-hmm.

[00:13:56] Steve: if folks are searching for. You, like you in your area for a tax professional or the particular expertise you have or something you can set a budget and it will just send you that many leads until your budget is exhausted.

[00:14:11] Tyler: Mm-hmm.

[00:14:13] Steve: Anyway, I I never got that fully set up, but that's a similar thing to what you're describing now that I didn't realize about ad campaigns.

[00:14:23] Tyler: Yeah, I mean if the goal is to get traffic or eyeballs to your website, there are multiple ways to do it. Some of them are free when it comes to money, but high cost when it comes to your time, like social media marketing, you don't have to pay to have a Twitter account, but you'll pay with your time.

Right? Others are, are expensive from a financial perspective, like paid ads but low on. Your time, low cost of time. And so you just kind of, you kinda have to pick. What's interesting though is there are the trade-offs too, right? So with the social media following it's, your personality is out there also, like you as an individual.

And so potentially that's much easier to build relationships with potential customers. So start building trust and getting people to know you before they even think about buying anything from you. And with a paid ad, you're definitely not getting that, right? Like a paid ad is very. Transactional typically it's like which in my, you know, now that I think about it, makes it maybe not a great fit for my particular type of business, which does rely a lot on, you know, personal connection and trust.

Anyway, that's just a thought.

[00:15:31] Steve: Okay. That's a good point.

[00:15:35] Tyler: And then, let's see. The last thing that I tried and am continuing to try, although I must confess, I do this also kind of because I think it's fun and not necessarily because I think it's gonna be a huge benefit to my business, is search engine optimization. So the pursuit of organic traffic, right?

Instead of paid ads, traffic that just comes to you for free because people are searching for things that you're able to provide an answer for. I for some reason love this and I'm fascinated by it. I've spent a lot of money on it for what I've gotten out of it. Both in like, I took a course, like learning about how to do it effectively.

And then I've also paid money toward tools for authoring content with AI help.

[00:16:23] Steve: Okay.

[00:16:24] Tyler: prompt engineering for chatGPT, think of that kind of thing to help. Increase the number you know, scale my ability to write content for a search engine optimization. And, you know, it's working for me in the sense that I, I'm getting traffic to my website organically now between like five or 600 visits a month, which is like, blows my mind.

Um, And from that I occasionally get people's email addresses through, through lead magnet, right? So um, but I haven't converted anyone from this channel into a paying client. It's just kind of a way to pursue leads. And that's been an interesting experience also.

[00:17:02] Steve: Okay. And the goal there is you're building a library of content that portrays you as a subject matter expert on whatever it is that folks are searching for, that that hopefully aligns with also the services you offer.

[00:17:20] Tyler: I think so, but I, I think from like a technical perspective, it's actually the same goal as a paid ad. You're just trying to get someone onto your website and give them something useful, answer a question they're asking. Because also paid ads, those show up when people search too, right? Like Google chooses which ads to show based on what they're searching for.

And so a, the only difference is that you're paying for a high ranking on Google as opposed to quote, earning it by having a trustworthy website and useful content. So different means to the same end. Again, that trade off between I guess your money or your time is what this all comes down to, so,

[00:18:03] Steve: And on this one, you can optimize the time a little bit by using the generative AI tools that you mentioned, right?

[00:18:10] Tyler: yeah. Yeah. Actually, it's crazy. I mean, it's a, like I said, it's a fun space. It's probably a little bit outside of the scope of, of being a small business owner, but I don't know if you're, if you are a small business owner or a blogger and bloggers can be, you know, that is a great business for people to run, having a blog.

You'd be crazy not to be diving into AI content generation right now cause it's, it's really quite impressive what can be done, how it can assist humans in creating useful content and what used to cost. Hundreds of dollars. You know, you're hiring a writer, freelance writer to kind of crank out these articles that gets expensive fast.

But now, I mean, I wrote I'd, I'd have to go look, but maybe half a dozen articles last month and it cost me 17 cents using the OpenAI, like a, an API key. So it's pretty wild. It's like, Dramatically cheaper. And you still have to do like quality research to find out what to write articles about, you know, what are people searching for?

That kind of stuff. So it's not like, like it's totally automated for me at least. Although that is possible if you, if you've got the technical abilities, you know, so, so, yeah. So there's a lot of cool stuff going on right now in this space.

[00:19:20] Steve: Okay. That's really interesting. So social media marketing, paid ads and SEO.

[00:19:28] Tyler: Right. All in an effort to drive traffic to my website, which I'm not a website designer either, so it's like questionable how effective even getting traffic there is. But it's been, you know, it's, this has been part of the fun for me, like I said, is trying to build, build something that that can be effective.

[00:19:46] Steve: Right, and if you're enjoying it, then that that can be its own reward as well.

[00:19:51] Tyler: Yeah, totally.

[00:19:54] Steve: Okay. So if we set those to the side, what other things have you or I tried, I. I mean, one that I can talk about because I have actually done is networking like in real life with folks

[00:20:10] Tyler: Yeah, let's talk about things that actually work well for a small business with no money. Just kidding. Just kidding.

[00:20:17] Steve: This one is, is largely free. Like there are networking groups where you pay to be a part of them. Uh, BNI is one of them.

[00:20:27] Tyler: I've heard of that one. Yeah.

[00:20:28] Steve: I forget what it stands for. Business Networking International or something like that. Anyway, I'm not in a BNI group, but that, that is one, it's very structured.

[00:20:37] Tyler: Mm-hmm.

[00:20:37] Steve: You refer clients to each other.

There's like, you can only have one of each sort of practitioner in the group. So there's only one bookkeeper, one tax pro one I don't know, realtor perhaps. Anyway, so that you always have. The person that you're referring clients to, if you find someone who fits that need. Uh, The groups that I have been in are a little more informal than that.

I found one locally here on a website called Alignable, which is sort of a social network for small business owners. The, the idea of that network is, or that website is, Being able to refer clients to each other as well. But the, the primary benefit I've gotten out of it so far is finding this local group that meets once a month and will have, you know, we'll have a lunch and somebody will give a presentation about whatever it is that they're really good at.

And then we'll, you know, you can meet people afterward. And that's been both really fun and really useful for. Learning to talk about myself, kind of refining the elevator pitch. You know, those kinds of things. Just the, the practice of being out in front of people trying to describe what it is you do

Either so that if they need the service that you're offering, they can understand that and you can start a relationship there or so that if they have other clients or they know other people that need the thing that you're offering, that they can then go to them and describe what it is that you do.

[00:22:15] Tyler: Yeah, so it also sounds like a great way to just build relationships.

[00:22:20] Steve: Yes.

[00:22:20] Tyler: you made any good, like connections that you've really enjoyed at at this thing?

[00:22:25] Steve: I have, yeah. I've gotten least one client from that and then met a digital marketing specialist and took a course from her, which was super helpful for me. Maybe we'll talk about that sometime.

[00:22:42] Tyler: Maybe you can tell me about everything, how everything I said if it was,

[00:22:47] Steve: I was thinking as we were going along that we, we kind of just dived right into tactics of like, these are the tools that you can use to do digital marketing without talking about the strategy at all. And so if, you know, if digital marketers are listening to this, they're probably screaming into their

[00:23:03] Tyler: Help us. Let me hire you. Yeah, that's interesting actually. That's one of, I, I, sorry to do a little tangent here, but I think that's one of the most fascinating things to me so far about trying to run a small business is like it's, or be a solopreneur. It's just me, right? It's just you. Like, I don't have a sales team, I don't have a marketing team.

I don't have people working for me who are experts in all this stuff. So my choices are learn how to do it myself and kind of become a jack of all trades. Or like outsource it basically,

[00:23:33] Steve: Right.

[00:23:33] Tyler: or, and I feel like I have to be a lot more selective about what I pursue and like what I wanna spend my time on because like, I'm not spend, you know, I don't have that much time to spend on this, so it's

[00:23:44] Steve: Mm-hmm. Yeah, like website design for me is one that I've been debating back and forth on should I just do this myself because I have technical experience, like I could do it technically, you know, and my web design skills are maybe not top shelf, but I could eventually get it out. And, but the, the thing that I am not quite as good at is, The strategy and the, you know, figuring out what copy is going to convey the message that I'm trying to, the convey the image that I want to present, that kind of thing.

And so, you know, should I hire a digital marketing agency to work with me on creating a website, for example?

[00:24:31] Tyler: Right. And I think I'm very interested, interested for the second half of this conversation, which is where we talk about where our clients are actually coming from compared to the things we've tried. So I I, yeah, that's gonna be great.

[00:24:44] Steve: Mm-hmm.

[00:24:46] Tyler: So you were talking about networking. Yes. In real life, in networking groups locally where you live.

[00:24:52] Steve: Yes, that has been, has been good so far. Well, when we get to the numbers, I'll figure out how many of those, like how many clients I've actually gotten from that. We'll talk about that in a second, but

[00:25:03] Tyler: Okay.

[00:25:04] Steve: it's been fun if nothing else and useful to, oh, well the other thing I'll say is my client base is potentially nationwide.

I don't have to be just in my local area,

[00:25:17] Tyler: Right.

[00:25:18] Steve: Because I am federally authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS, so it doesn't really matter where they live or where I live. But. Marketing, like making the relationships locally is a lot easier than trying to find customers all over the country because then I'm competing with everybody,

[00:25:40] Tyler: Mm-hmm.

[00:25:41] Steve: which are, are the problems that you run into with paid ads, social media, marketing, SEO.

[00:25:47] Tyler: Yeah.

[00:25:48] Steve: to find a way to differentiate yourself in that big arena of competitors. And so there is. A lot to be said for having a local presence with folks that know you and being able to build relationships that way.

[00:26:09] Tyler: Absolutely. Yeah, and I, I feel like those relationships. Are where most of the good stuff happens. Probably at this stage, at least for me, I, I think it's great that I've been over here, like sitting alone behind my computer, typing away on Twitter and SEO and you're out there like meeting people and having a good time.

I'm learning that I should be pursuing more of that kind of stuff. And I say that kind of as, as a joke, but, but honestly, it's true. I've, I've been uh, Thinking about my own networking. Typically when I go to networking events, it's related to my day job, right? So people who are engaged in the same profession as me which I absolutely love and have ever since I've been doing that for years.

But yeah, I had, I have to think about like, would I, how would I change how I act these types of events if I wanted to all, you know, include what I do on the side as, as part of the conversation. So,

[00:27:01] Steve: Mm-hmm. I wonder also because your business is more B2C business to consumer. Rather than B2B business to business like mine is, I wonder if, like, I get a lot of value out of these local networking groups because most of the folks that are there are small business owners and many of them serve other businesses and not necessarily consumers directly.

[00:27:26] Tyler: Mm-hmm.

[00:27:27] Steve: And I do serve individuals, but a lot of my big, you know, bigger or more profitable clients are going to be businesses. I'm wondering if that makes a difference, like the sort of clients that you serve. If the networking groups that I am in would be as beneficial to you as they are to me, just because of the different sort of business that we have.

[00:27:52] Tyler: That's a good point, and I don't know the answer, but I like the question.

[00:27:57] Steve: Okay. I know I've met a few. Coaches of various types at, at this group and they seem to focus on like corporate coaching. Like they'll come in and train your team on something or they'll facilitate a discussion or

[00:28:16] Tyler: Yeah, that is a common thing. Executive coaches is another really popular type of coach. Um,

[00:28:24] Steve: What I met, I met a coach uh, that just does parents of young children. Which I thought was super cool, like parents that also have careers, but they have young children and there's, you know, there's a lot to juggle there. I have four kids at home. And so that, that was super interesting that, that there is a coach in my area in that niche.

[00:28:44] Tyler: So I'd say the last type of channel, I guess you could say for getting clients that I can think of right now is referrals.

[00:28:52] Steve: Mm-hmm.

[00:28:53] Tyler: I'm just curious, have you, what has your experience been with referrals? How do referrals work for you? So I'm still at the point where I am. I guess I just haven't pursued this, like I know I should, you know, I've been working with clients I haven't just, I just ha I'm, I haven't looked into how to ask them for referrals. I know it's not like rocket science. I could probably just ask them like, who do you know that I could talk to?

Or whatever. Or whatever. Right. But, but I'm curious, it sounds like from our conversations offline, that you have actually had some referral experiences go quite well. So I'm curious what, what that's been like, what, you know, how did you broach the topic? What'd you talk about how, where do these referrals come from, et cetera.

[00:29:36] Steve: Okay. That's a great question. Uh, I will say I have not yet had the experience of asking someone for referrals.

[00:29:45] Tyler: Okay.

[00:29:46] Steve: So take this with a grain of salt. Uh, I don't know if that's typical or not, but most of the referrals I've gotten from other B2B practitioners have been in the vein of, let's get to know each other and find out what each of us does, and then if I meet somebody who needs your services or vice versa, then I know that I can send them to you. So I've talked about a, a few episodes ago I mentioned interviewing small business attorneys to find one for a client that I had that had a particular need. And seeing that as part of my job as their tax professional to

make a good recommendation to them of uh, I, I talked with this person. This is what they specialize in. This is what I noticed from the conversation. Uh, If that's what, if this XYZ is what you're looking for, they're a good fit. This other person. Here's what I learned from their conversation. They specialize in this other thing.

They work uh, they bill uh, this way instead of this other way. If that sounds like it resonates with you, go with them.

[00:30:57] Tyler: Yeah, so it sounds like you're essentially building like a traditional network of business relationships. And then as everyone in that net, as every node in that network kind of hears about someone that's looking for something that you do, it just kind of naturally comes up and they might recommend you.

[00:31:12] Steve: That's right.

[00:31:13] Tyler: Cool.

You've been getting clients that way.

[00:31:16] Steve: I have, and like giving referrals that way is really fun. I, I enjoy that part of it. So I, I imagine it's that way for the, the person sending referrals to me as well. At least I hope that it's been a good relationship on both sides, that they're like, happy to do that.

[00:31:34] Tyler: Okay, so now that we've talked about a number of various methods for trying to find clients for our businesses, A little bit about what they are, what we've tried, what, what's, what's worked. Let's dive into that specifically what's worked. So, so I'm curious of the things we've talked about, where are the clients for your business, for your business actually coming from in your experience so far?

Like people who actually make it all the way to the end and hire you to be their tax pro, how did you first meet them? Where did they come from?

[00:32:07] Steve: Okay, so for me, let's see. The numbers I have here are. Of all of my prospective clients, not all of them signed with me, but we can go through prospects. About a third of them came through networking that, like primarily in-person networking, but some some online networking as well.

And about half of those eventually signed on and became a client of some kind.

[00:32:34] Tyler: Very cool.

[00:32:34] Steve: Then another third are personal contacts, like folks that I knew from previous jobs or friends and family that kind of thing. And most of those that expressed interest in hiring me did eventually become clients.

[00:32:51] Tyler: Mm-hmm.

[00:32:52] Steve: But the personal contacts will dry up eventually.

Like I have a limited number of people that I know personally.

[00:32:59] Tyler: Right.

[00:33:00] Steve: Dunbar's number, I think. And then the other one this last season I did an Uber for tax prep, sort of a platform where they, the, the platform has already qualified the leads and they just need a practitioner to do the work. And so then they'll show you a price for the job and you can take it or not.

And then they manage the client relationship. So I don't really have a relationship with those folks, but about another third of my clients so far have been through that platform. But that's all just a one-time thing.

[00:33:33] Tyler: Yep.

[00:33:34] Steve: And they don't pay as well because I am not doing the work of maintaining the relationship.

The platform is. So, but that was interesting. You know, it's useful for gaining experience as well. And then I've had a couple of, I've had like one client referral and one through LinkedIn services. There's a, a relatively new feature, I think on LinkedIn where you can say what services you offer and, and somehow someone found me on that and sent a message. And so I got a prospect through that. So that was interesting. Yeah, that covers it for me. So networking, personal contacts this other platform and then a, a couple various small things.

[00:34:14] Tyler: right. Okay. Very cool. Very

[00:34:16] Steve: How about for you?

[00:34:19] Tyler: Okay, so for me I've, I got one prospect from Twitter, as I mentioned before, who did become a client. I've had exactly one prospect uh, from search engine optimization who became a client. So they, they were googling around for help with YNAB. They found my website and signed up for coaching, well, sorry.

Yeah, they signed up for my two hour coaching session that I do for no charge. Had a, had a great experience and signed with me. So that's one from Twitter, one from SEO. I've had Two clients from personal contacts, and then all of the rest of my clients have come from being listed in the YNAB coaching directory, which is on their website.

Which I realize I'm not very diversified, but it has been great because it's highly Qualified leads, right? Basically someone's like, I'd like someone to help me budget with YNAB. And there I, there I am with a bunch of other coaches listed in a directory. And you know, they, they, a lot of people might talk to a few coaches.

It's really important to find someone who's a good fit for their personality, for their needs. And I don't actually have the close rate with me, which is embarrassing, but I'd say if I had to just guess, I'd say maybe half, maybe 50% of the prospects that have come. Through that channel have have decided to work with me.

[00:35:43] Steve: Oh, that's pretty good.

[00:35:44] Tyler: And my dream, as I mentioned, it seems like almost every episode is to do such a good job with these clients that eventually the proportion of le of prospects that I'm getting from referrals you know, rises and rises and eventually I just become a referral based business.

[00:36:00] Steve: That's the dream.

[00:36:01] Tyler: That's the dream. Yeah. We'll see.


[00:36:05] Steve: How, I'm curious how you. Pre-qualify your client so that perhaps, for example, on the coaching directory, if there's a bunch of coaches on there, how do you stand out or how do you convey what makes you different as a coach so that they can see, oh, that that resonates with me, or that doesn't, so I'm not even gonna bother talking to him.

[00:36:25] Tyler: Well, it's kind of hard because you don't have very much, you have your picture and then basically like one or two sentences to kind of. List yourself in the directory. Right. And I tried several things. My first approach was more focused on the results that they would achieve in terms of becoming proficient in yab, in the methodology in the apps.

It's like, wanna be good at this? Talk to me, that kind of, that kind of an approach. And then as I've talked about in other episodes, my current approach is just to offer a two hour coaching session, deep coaching, free of charge, where we can take a deep dive on their problems, on where they're stuck on their budget, on whatever it is.

That is the reason that they're looking for a coach and have a powerful coaching experience. And then at the end of that, they can decide if they want to continue or not. And so, How I'm trying to stand out now is offering that two hours. It's kind of crazy. A lot of coaches have like, oh, 15 minute consult or 25 minutes, you know, consult.

And I've tried that too in the past, but I think that putting it out there that I'm willing to spend two hours with someone is a great way to stand out because not many people are willing to do that. And uh, I've had multiple people tell me that that's why they wanted to talk to me, right? They're like, I just didn't think 15 minutes was enough to really know if I would wanna work with someone.

[00:37:44] Steve: Okay. Yeah.

[00:37:45] Tyler: Yeah, so that's the current strategy or plan.

[00:37:50] Steve: Okay. So two hours is a long time, which we've talked about before, but it's a good way to get them the experience of coaching if they haven't been coached before. And so I think it makes a lot of sense for what you're trying to accomplish. How do you avoid having that two hours wasted, like.

How do you make sure that the client knows beforehand, sort of what to expect and what the next steps will be if this resonates with them? Do you do any of that kind of talking upfront about pricing or anything before they've even booked the call?

[00:38:24] Tyler: About pricing? No, but what happens is if they click on my name in the directory, I do have a landing page on my website that goes into more depth about what they can expect during the two hours, what they're gonna walk away with, and then what next steps would look like if they decided they did want to work with me.

But it's, but it's a little bit high level still. Because remember, I'm banking on the experience selling the service. So I, my ch the challenge, and, and by the way, for anyone listening, I, I'm not saying that this is what you should do, I'm just saying this is what I am trying to do right now. Because it's for a lot of reasons we've discussed, right?

It's, for me, it's less pressure, it's less work. It takes less time. And it's of the people who I talk with for two hours, I've found that the close rate, if you will, is, is much higher because there's that personal relationship at that point and they know what they're buying, right. So anyway, it's, it, that's what's working for me right now.

But, so on that landing page, yes, there's some additional information about what to expect. Um, I have tried other things too. So once someone books that two hour call, I haven't done anything cons-- I've tried many things. I, I haven't stuck with any, any one thing for more than a few times. But one thing that I tried is I, I would send them an email, like, after I received the booking, I would say, I'm, I'm so glad that you are interested in working with me.

Looking forward to our conversation. Just so you know, here's how much a typical client of mine pays for working with me for this long, and right now I have a slot on Tuesdays at 4:00 PM Mountain Time just to let them know like, look you know, if you're not available on Tuesdays at four. And you don't wanna spend this much money, like maybe it's not worth it.

Right. And I've had that I've only tried that specific thing once. I feel like it's like pretty restrictive. Like, you know, it, it's also might not work out for me. Like if they're not available at Tuesday at four and am I really unwilling to do it at a different time that week, maybe in the evening,

when it might be more convenient? I don't know. But interestingly, the time that I did that, they wrote back and they were like, sure, sounds good. We'll see you on Friday, or whatever it was. So, and then they ended up hiring me. So, so again, very tiny sample size on that data. I don't know what it means if anything, but I've tried that just kind of like weed out maybe anyone who's not serious.


[00:40:41] Steve: Mm-hmm.

[00:40:41] Tyler: then another thing that I've tried is on the booking form that I use, I had like a checkbox. It's like, Check here to confirm that you understand that you will show up on time and if you don't or if you no show without notice, that you may forfeit future consultations. Something like that.

Just some language that kind of helps 'em understand that it's a commitment for me, not just for them. And so they should take it seriously. So I those are a couple things that I've tried. Right now, I don't have either of those. I'm being really liberal with my pretty generous with this offer, this two hour offer, because I'm finding that it, it's working pretty well.

And I find that people who have showed up have been serious and, and yeah, I think a lot of that comes down to the fact that they're, you know, very qualified already just by ending up on the YNAB directory.

[00:41:30] Steve: Okay. That makes sense.

[00:41:32] Tyler: What about you? Have you tried to like uh, filter out uh, leads that. You know, that you think might not be a good fit before you spend time with them, or is that like, what's the thinking there?

[00:41:43] Steve: Right. I have a little bit because I really like the idea of by the time they get to the consultation, By the time they get to that call, I would love for it not to feel like a sales call where we can just talk about, let's answer your questions, let's talk about what the next steps would be, and then they can decide if they wanna hire me or not.

And I don't have to be pushy on the call.

[00:42:08] Tyler: Mm-hmm.

[00:42:09] Steve: So as much of the pre-qualification as I can front-load, I will or I would love to do. And so part of the way that looks so far is when I get a referral from somebody it'll typically be in an email between uh, Them and the potential client saying Hey, Steve does taxes and he can help you do something, but they don't give a a lot of details necessarily, which is not their job.

That's fine. Uh, But I'll write back and say I am an enrolled agent, which is blah, blah, blah. And my clients are typically solopreneurs and small businesses with just a handful of employees. I focus on X, Y, Z. And I may even say what a typical engagement costs in that email, and that way they know upfront, okay, this, this guy is not just a generalist tax preparer.

He specializes in these things and it's typically what that client is anyway, because the person sending the referral knew that already about them. So that will usually line up, but it kind of conveys. I'm serious about this niche and I'm really good at it, and so if that fits you and this price doesn't sound outrageous, then let's go ahead and book the call and then I'll have the Calendly link in that email.

[00:43:31] Tyler: That's cool. You know, I, I really believe in this concept, in this principle that we're talking about of qualifying leads as stringently as possible. What I'm finding myself thinking as I listen to you is that for me it depends, and I think one of the things that it depends on is supply and demand.

Right. So that really restrictive email that I sent or that I mentioned where it's like I have, this is the slot that I have available. Here's about how much it costs. Let me know if that works for you and we can still talk. I sent that because I only had one slot left at the time.

[00:44:03] Steve: Mm-hmm.

[00:44:03] Tyler: Right. And the way I do it is I have a certain number of hours each week that I dedicate to coaching and that

includes both paid clients and unpaid clients. Unpaid clients are basically prospects, right? People that are thinking about becoming paid clients,

[00:44:18] Steve: Right.

[00:44:19] Tyler: and I just want that time to be filled as a hundred percent as much as possible. So if I, if it's filled with paid clients, awesome. I'll be way more

stringent in my qualifying of leads, I guess you could say. If it's not filled with paid clients, then I think I'm willing to be more open and I'll talk to more, a wider swath of people. Right. Just cuz I'd, I'd rather be coaching and refining my skills, whether it's paid or not.

[00:44:45] Steve: That makes a lot of sense. So you can kind of dial it up and down

[00:44:48] Tyler: Yeah,

[00:44:48] Steve: on supply and demand.

[00:44:50] Tyler: exactly.

[00:44:50] Steve: I like that.

[00:44:51] Tyler: But again, we're kind of in a little bit of a different world. We're in different businesses, right? So whereas you're able to do a lot of your work for your clients without them present, you know? I am a hundred, you know, I only work with them when they're present. So it's a, it's a lot higher touch like we've talked about in, in the past for per volume, I guess you could say.

But anyway. Interesting. Very cool. I, I love this, this topic. I think we could probably do a whole episode on it at some point. And uh, You've inspired me. Thank you.

[00:45:20] Steve: Yeah. Good. I'm glad to hear that. So, next time we should talk about once you get a prospect, Onto the, the consultation call in my case or into the, the two hour session. How do you close the deal with them? Like how does it go from that point on? Or how do you turn a prospect into a client that that's sort of a topic?

[00:45:45] Tyler: Yep. That sounds great.

[00:45:47] Steve: Okay, well that's what you can expect next time you tune in, then I guess.

[00:45:53] Tyler: right. Thanks for listening to this episode of It's Not About the Money. We'll see you next time.

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